Sailing out of Darkness (Carolina Coast Book 4)(8)

By: Normandie Fischer


“Sì. Adele wishes to see you. You come soon? We make a feast, mangiamo insieme.”

“I will. You thank her. Tell her to pick a day.”

“Va bene. Ciao!” And the scooter zoomed off toward the hills.

Teo watched until Nicco vanished around a corner. Their chance encounter boded well for the day.

So what if he had a bit of writer’s block? He’d get over it.

Without wind, the glassy surface of the Mediterranean caught the sun’s flames and bounced them skyward. Teo watched the colors ease from purples to reds and yellows and oranges, blending shades of each in both the sky and sea. A few masts bobbed on a swell. Gulls squawked and cawed overhead.

The sand kicked up under his loafers and cane as he wandered toward the town landing. An espresso called. An espresso and a bit of fresh bread.

Perhaps the words hadn’t formed yet, but hazy snapshots flicked into his mind, pieces of her image blinking behind the veil. Perhaps she would remain a mirage, but he certainly hoped not.

He’d like to have something new to show his editor when he visited the States. Val prodded him to write another Sophrina mystery, but perhaps he could convince her to take on someone different, his illusive vision. Especially if he didn’t completely toss Sophrina to the wolves, but merely added a new twist, a new persona to his repertoire.

He’d like to savor something new, a fresh taste on his lips, a different world.

After all, he was a writer. He should be able to create worlds to inhabit, shouldn’t he? Even if only for himself.





3





Samantha





Pilings chafe and barnacles rip

At a body tossed on a word of truth.



An owl hooted. Sam stopped packing and listened, knowing what would follow. At the mournful response and quick riposte, she sent up a prayer for wandering barn cats. She didn’t want to imagine talons swooping to capture the unwary. The two birds of prey spoke in the night stillness, while she stood, a fistful of underwear clutched to her chest.

Would she hear owls in Italy? Or be able to watch shore birds plunge after fish? How could she just up and leave it all?

Again.

What had it been? Eighteen months since she’d packed, changed homes, and started another shop, another life, two hours east and a lifetime away from Raleigh? No, more than that. It was the end of summer now. It hadn’t even been winter then.

Divorce was such a harsh word. She’d purposefully left it out of her vocabulary, hoping it might never happen. Twenty-three years made creases in a life that didn’t just iron out when someone said, “So long, good-bye, I never loved you.” Amazing that after years of words, those would be the last ones in a marriage. At the very end, Greg’s eyes had said, I hate you.

And here she was, no better off. What had she told herself when he left? That most men were creeps, interested in only one thing. She’d asked God or her own self or something to show her if her thinking were skewed, to show her a man who wasn’t a clone of Greg. She’d declared to whatever wall happened to be listening that if a single man of good character existed, one who had enough gray cells to make decent conversation and who wasn’t buying Jags and lacing fingers with teeny boppers, she wanted to meet him. She could still hear her own voice say, “Maybe not anytime soon, but surely before all longings drain out and I become a stick tossed about by the wind.”

Well, she’d met a man all right. And look how that had turned out. She’d imagined him a gift, but considering the mess she’d been in when she’d first returned to Beaufort, she should have hunted up girlfriends. Sure, some of the younger women had tried to befriend her, but it had felt like too much work to fit into the happy-ever-after world of Tadie and Hannah and all those others.

She really hadn’t given them a chance, had she? Not after Jack had shown up, grinning past those shades of his. She’d told herself the women were at a different place in their lives, half a generation behind her. Maybe if she lived in town, instead of isolated here at South River, making friends with them would have been easier.

She closed the lid to her case and headed to the shower. Turning on the exhaust fan, she undressed with her back to the mirror. She didn’t want to see the cheekbones exaggerated from weight loss or the dark circles under newly sunken eyes. She’d had the same look before, hadn’t she, bony protrusions once softened by flesh? Then, her body had been unloved, untouched by her husband for more than a year. She remembered a time in the spring before he said good-bye when he’d turned away, limp and useless. She’d chalked up that failure to overwork and stress—she’d even felt compassion for him. What a fool she’d been. It had been overwork all right. He’d been overworked by Gail’s young and very voluptuous body.